Radio is one of many hobbies people
have. You install radio communication equipment (Transmitter,
Receiver, Antenna) in your home most
cases, but in your car, boat, airplane, office, school ...... also,
wherever convenient for you, and communicate with people having same
hobby all over the world. There are millions of men and women
just like you with all kind of occupation, at every age, 6-7 years
old through 70-80 years old, looking for you to talk over the radio
whenever they find some spare time to enjoy ham radio operation all
over the world from a large country like U.S.A. to tiny island
somewhere in Pacific or Indian Ocean which name you might have never
name of HAM RADIO is AMATEUR RADIO.
No one knows exactly why Amateur Radio has become Ham Radio. The most
reasonable theory is it is from "AM" - the first two
letter of Amateur - and "H" is added for pronunciation
convenience. Only Amateur Radio is called Ham Radio and Radio
Amateur is called "HAM", no other Amateur.
start of ham radio is same as the start of radio communication, as
the Marconi, the inventor of radio communication, can be called as
the first ham in the world, as he invented it for the personal
interest, not as a
profession to make money.
are many different types of hams in the world.
most popular hams are "Rag Chewers". They love talking
with some strangers over the world as well as the neighbors. The subject
usually starts from the introduction of himself/herself, his/her
equipment, signal strength/clarity, weather where he/she lives, etc.
etc. However, as they meet again and again and become friend, the
subject can be any thing, just like you chat with your friends -
other hobbies, movies recently seen, last golf plays if both are
golfers, news around him/her....... as
far as it is non racial, non religious and non political, which
might hurt feeling of the other party. Though the English is used
mostly, you can use any language in the world as far as you can
communicate each other.
next popular type is we call "DXer". "DX" is the
radio communication code of "Long Distance" and "DXer"
means hams looking for other hams far a way which is usually more
difficult to communicate. The American Radio Relay Leage (ARRL), the
ham organization in U.S.A., created about 370 countries in the
world. Each independent state is a country. But any territory far
from mainland is also a separate country - such as Alaska, Guam and Hawaii.
DXers are competing each other how many countries they have ever
contacted. It is a dream of DXers to communicate with every countries
in the world and only a few of them have achieved it.
are "Contestants" in ham world. Many contests are held
regionally or world wide almost every week. The contest is held
usually for 2-3 weekend days competing each other to contact as many hams in
as many areas - like countries - as possible in the limited contest
period. During this contest, the participating hams operates his/her ham radio station continuously even without sleep most cases
to win, though all he get winning the contest is only the honor with
one piece of certificate and publicity as the winner in ham radio
are also "Engineering Hams". They do not communicate much
but have fun building and improving equipment. Once the
performance of new equipment they have created are confirmed, they
start new project. They are the pioneers of radio communication
world, as they have pioneered the Short Wave Communication at the
very early radio communication. (Long Wave for domestic
communication has been used in commercial radio until hams have
proven the short wave can communicate much longer distance such as
U.S. and Europe with far less power in early radio communication
after several years of hard experiments.)
are just a few examples and a ham can not be classified to one of these
groups only, as one ham will be a rag-chewer most of times, but DXer some
times, joins contests and spends quite a time to improve his/her
equipment always. Therefore
most of hams are combination of these categories.
are also many ways of ham radio communication. Most
popular communication is either voice (phone) or CW (telegraph).
However, there are all kinds of communication method used in ham
radio just as commercial radio stations are using these days - such
as teletype, computer to computer communication, ham TV sending and
receiving each other's picture. Short
wave is most popular frequency hams are using. However, some hams are
interested in communication through satellite, Earth-Moon-Earth
bounce, Line of Sight Microwave communication etc. etc. just to
communicate or to renew the world record.
become a ham and enjoy this scientific hobby, you have to pass a
government test (FCC in U.S.) taking examination of radio theory,
regulations and a certain skill sending and receiving telegraphy.
Once you pass it, FCC will issue you a license to operate ham radio
station (Operator License) and assign a call sign for your ham radio
station (Station License). Then, it is up to you where and when you
install ham radio station and enjoy this king of hobby.
have to have Transmitter, Receiver and Antenna to communicate
through radio wave. Transmitter and Receiver are combined into one
unit these days and called Transceiver. You can start with cheaper
equipment to talk with neighbors (neighbors means hundreds of miles
away) but it requires larger and more expensive rigs (equipment) and
antenna to communicate world wide. You can see many photos of ham
radio stations in this HAM RADIO section
including my old HM1AJ,
stations clicking each call sign at left.
as the Interent became more and more popular, Hams started to
communicate each other through Internet. Since it is computer to
computer comunication using Internet link called "Echo
Link", you don't need any ham radio equipment
(transmitter/receiver) nor antenna, but a computer. You just log in
to Internet with your computer (desktop or notebook), find another
Ham worldwide, connect to him and talk just like an Internet
telephone conversation. As it does not require huge expensive
antenna tower in your backyard, which is always big headache for
Hams, to communicate with opposite corner of the earth and you can
get always clear voice quality just like a local telephone, this
Internet communication is becoming more and more popular these days.
radio station in the world has own call sign which start with Prefix
- the first one or two letter(s) identifying the nationality of the
station. This prefixes are assigned by ITU, International
Telecommunications Union which is an organization of United Nations,
for AAA-ZZZ and 2AA-9ZZ. Some examples are - Korea
DSA-DTZ, 6KA-6NZ, U.S.A. :
NAA-NZZ, WAA-WZZ. This is why
all U.S. broadcasting stations have call signs starting with either
K (KBHK or KCBS etc.) or W. You have also seen Nxxxx on the body of
American airplane or HLxxxx of Korean airplane which is the call
sign of radio station in that airplane. The ham radio stations' call
signs are consisted of "Prefix"
+ "Call Area Number"
+ " Suffix".
U.S. is divided into 10 Call Areas
(Only ham radio has Call Area) and "6" indicates
is issued from A-Z, AA-ZZ and AAA-ZZZ. My call signs of KE6AJ
and KB6IR identify they are ham radio
stations in California, U.S.A. and HM1AJ
in Seoul, Korea. (Call Area "1" in Korea is Seoul). Suffix
is generally issued in sequence of license, but reissued from any
previously held but cancelled call signs.
call sign is issued this way internationally, there is no same call
sign in the world and the call sign indicates the nationality and
more detailed area he is operating (or lives). Especially, ham radio
call sign is very personal as it is issued to an individual.
Therefore, ham is using this call sign as another name of him/her -
the international name. There are many Chos but only one KE6AJ
in the world.
hope this very brief explanation has helped you to understand
somewhat what the hell the HAM
I. Cho, KE6AJ/ex-HM1AJ/KB6IR